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246 Probably, had Conrad finished the work, his artistic career would have taken a different direction from the one It actually took. The reprint of The Sisters is welcome. The book seems physically a part of a more opulent age than ours. It is bound in leather, the top edge gilded and the title stamped in gold, and seems to be printed on hand-made paper. The only defect Is that, with the edition limited to 950 copies, only 15 more copies than the 1928 edn., the Mursla Sisters may become as rare as the Crosby Galge, Book collectors will be reluctant to part with such a beautiful volume. The University of Texas at Arlington John S. Lewis 2. CONRAD: A SON ON HIS FATHER Borys Conrad, My Father: Joseph Conrad. Lond: Calder 4 Boyars, 1970. $4.20. Borys Conrad's book adds little to what is already known of Conrad 's life and career, but it does offer a portrait of the writer that seems most distinct in the years preceding the first World War, the years of Conrad's greatest achievements. The younger Conrad demonstrates how Jessie Conrad managed a household In which Conrad could work with little interruption. One would expect , under these circumstances, Borys Conrad to have been closer to his mother than his father. Such was not the case. In the opening sentence of the first chapter, Borys Conrad says, "my Father appears clearly as the central figure around whom our family life revolved, whereas my Mother's Image Is far less distinct." The period Borys Conrad speaks of are the years that produced Nostromo and Under Western Eyes. Afterwards, young Borys attended school away from home and later served In the Royal Artillery. After demobilization he spent some time before marrying and beginning his career with an automobile manufacturing firm. Consequently, memories of the later years are not so sharp-edged as those of his younger days. Furthermore, in the first decade of this century, Joseph Conrad too was younger, less troubled with illness, and, since Borys had few friends his own age, J. C., as "Boy" later began to call him, was a closer companion to his elder son than In later years. During the 1914 visit to Poland, Borys· lack of Polish handicapped him from providing details of a holiday that turned into an adventure complete with hairsbredth escape. When Conrad and his family attempted to cross the Austrian frontier into neutral Italy, Conrad's German was sufficient to bluff his way past a Prussian border guard by waving. Incredibly enough, his British passport. The guard seemed not to realize that Conrad and his family were enemy aliens. Joseph Conrad's humor, by Borys· account, suggests little of the compulsive gaiety that Conrad's biographer, Jocelyn Balnes, associated with morbid depression. In Borys· eyes Conrad's humor seemed 24 7 spontaneous and light-hearted. The elder Conrad once had a neighborhood artisan fashion a pedal-propelled machine for "Boy." When the pedals proved too stiff for Borys to operate, J.C. surreptitiously cut off a length of Mrs. Conrad's clothesline to help propel the machine uphill. Conrad also understood Borys· youthful need to feel Independent. When Borys was deemed old enough to use firearms he was eventually sent out alone. In later years, he learned that Conrad observed him through binoculars while Borys moved across country supposedly alone. The younger Conrad's attraction to self-propelled vehicles came early in life, and some of his liveliest memories are associated with automobile trips. While driving, Borys learned to slow down the automobile periodically so that J. C., who usually sat in the rear, could light a cigaret in the wind with his gouty hands. One of the most amusing incidents was a quick Journey to London. Conrad shared the back seat, on this occasion, with Hugh Walpole, young Conrad driving. After their arrival, Borys turned around to find his father hatless and Walpole speechless. Later, the frightened Walpole safedly delivered to his flat and Conrad wearing new headgear, J. C. explained that his hat was "knocked from my head by the nose of a gigantic dray-horse when you cut across its...


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pp. 246-247
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